Cortana: The Next Big Bad

Halo. Microsoft's Mario. The FPS prodigy, loved by the masses, and hated by the fans of the competition. But love it or hate it, you know two things.

1. It rocked. Even if it wasnt your cup of tea, it was still worth a few sips every time.

and 2. It is NOT over.

While Bungie is stepping out of the limelight, Microsoft is not letting go, putting 343 Studios in charge of the Halo franchise, lore and all. And while Bungie was more than happy to step away from the the lone hero antics for their farewell from Halo, 343 most defiantly will not.

it is almost assured that the next official Halo game will follow Master Chief onto whatever planet he was last seen drifting towards, but what is unknown is exactly what he will be facing once he awakens. A land of savage Elites? A new form of Flood? Lost Forerunners? The people of Marathon?

While all of those are good possible theories, i have one of my own that is very natural in the evolution of Halo lore. I think the next big bad in the Halo Universe is... Cortana.

If your a devout follower of the Halo stores, you know that Cortana is considered a "smart A.I.". These Smart A.I.'s are designed to operate at the levels of an overly genius human. They are smarter than normal A.I.'s in multiple fields of expertise, and have the ability to hypothesize. To think in ways that are normally human.

The downside to these A.I.'s is that they are still just machines. As they compile data, and begin to think more and more, developing their own identities and conciseness', and compiling massive amounts of data, they begin to break. In most cases, they simply shut down. Short circuit from the sheer mass of information. In other cases, they attempt to protect themselves against the first outcome by deleting lesser data. And if you are into sci-fi, you know that machines tend to see morals and emotions as lesser data.

To counteract both of these outcomes, most A.I.'s are decommissioned after a few years, their data stored, studied, and the more useful info shared with other A.I.'s as deemed necessary. But Cortana has been active for well over the standard amount of time. She has collected more data on The Covenant, The Forerunners, The Flood, and human beings than probably every A.I. combined. She has also developed a personality, similar to that of her maker Doctor Halsey, but with her own flair of attitude and logic, much like a daughter. And of course the often hinted at romance she "feels" towards Master Chief.

So what happens when an A.I., pushed to all of its limits and then some, with more data than anything before it, goes batty? There is allot of proof that its already happened, in game and out. In the ending of Halo 2, we see her begin to communicate with the Gravemind like an equal, something most computers and A.I.'s wouldnt do. But Cortana seemed to bypass the part of her programing that saw him as a threat, and gave into the idea of him being something worth sharing information with.

This carried over into halo 3, where Cortana seemed to be portraying erratic behavior through the Gravemind's telepathic link. How an A.I. was able to link telepathically to a parasitic being is beyond me, as she shouldnt have the ability to telepathically link without a brain. But if she is evolving to the point of having a truly artificial brain....

The final and possible most damning evidence comes from Halo Legends, the collection of Halo Universe stories animated by various anime studios. In Legends, Cortana actually shows signs of glitching and advanced technology as she makes a life-sized hologram of herself to speak to the frozen Master Chief.

Needless to say, Cortana has evolved into a different type of creature since she was handed off to Master Chief in on Reach. With the possible telepathy, the entire histories of multiple species, the development of deep emotions, and the possibility of her core systems eliminating programs that would keep her "human", it is all too possible that Cortana can become the next big dangerous adversary for Master Chief to topple.

{Thanks for reading! check out my other blog posts HERE ON COMICVINE.COM !!}

13 Comments
14 Comments
Posted by Sevan

Halo. Microsoft's Mario. The FPS prodigy, loved by the masses, and hated by the fans of the competition. But love it or hate it, you know two things.

1. It rocked. Even if it wasnt your cup of tea, it was still worth a few sips every time.

and 2. It is NOT over.

While Bungie is stepping out of the limelight, Microsoft is not letting go, putting 343 Studios in charge of the Halo franchise, lore and all. And while Bungie was more than happy to step away from the the lone hero antics for their farewell from Halo, 343 most defiantly will not.

it is almost assured that the next official Halo game will follow Master Chief onto whatever planet he was last seen drifting towards, but what is unknown is exactly what he will be facing once he awakens. A land of savage Elites? A new form of Flood? Lost Forerunners? The people of Marathon?

While all of those are good possible theories, i have one of my own that is very natural in the evolution of Halo lore. I think the next big bad in the Halo Universe is... Cortana.

If your a devout follower of the Halo stores, you know that Cortana is considered a "smart A.I.". These Smart A.I.'s are designed to operate at the levels of an overly genius human. They are smarter than normal A.I.'s in multiple fields of expertise, and have the ability to hypothesize. To think in ways that are normally human.

The downside to these A.I.'s is that they are still just machines. As they compile data, and begin to think more and more, developing their own identities and conciseness', and compiling massive amounts of data, they begin to break. In most cases, they simply shut down. Short circuit from the sheer mass of information. In other cases, they attempt to protect themselves against the first outcome by deleting lesser data. And if you are into sci-fi, you know that machines tend to see morals and emotions as lesser data.

To counteract both of these outcomes, most A.I.'s are decommissioned after a few years, their data stored, studied, and the more useful info shared with other A.I.'s as deemed necessary. But Cortana has been active for well over the standard amount of time. She has collected more data on The Covenant, The Forerunners, The Flood, and human beings than probably every A.I. combined. She has also developed a personality, similar to that of her maker Doctor Halsey, but with her own flair of attitude and logic, much like a daughter. And of course the often hinted at romance she "feels" towards Master Chief.

So what happens when an A.I., pushed to all of its limits and then some, with more data than anything before it, goes batty? There is allot of proof that its already happened, in game and out. In the ending of Halo 2, we see her begin to communicate with the Gravemind like an equal, something most computers and A.I.'s wouldnt do. But Cortana seemed to bypass the part of her programing that saw him as a threat, and gave into the idea of him being something worth sharing information with.

This carried over into halo 3, where Cortana seemed to be portraying erratic behavior through the Gravemind's telepathic link. How an A.I. was able to link telepathically to a parasitic being is beyond me, as she shouldnt have the ability to telepathically link without a brain. But if she is evolving to the point of having a truly artificial brain....

The final and possible most damning evidence comes from Halo Legends, the collection of Halo Universe stories animated by various anime studios. In Legends, Cortana actually shows signs of glitching and advanced technology as she makes a life-sized hologram of herself to speak to the frozen Master Chief.

Needless to say, Cortana has evolved into a different type of creature since she was handed off to Master Chief in on Reach. With the possible telepathy, the entire histories of multiple species, the development of deep emotions, and the possibility of her core systems eliminating programs that would keep her "human", it is all too possible that Cortana can become the next big dangerous adversary for Master Chief to topple.

{Thanks for reading! check out my other blog posts HERE ON COMICVINE.COM !!}

Edited by Finstern

I don't think your formatting copied over.... 
 
Edit: @Sevan:  Never mind browser didn't load the page properly :S 
 
But yeah, I think they had a proper moment to make her the big bad in Halo 1 in the control room (where she was showing signs of rampancy) and Halo 2 with the Gravemind, she doesn't seem in a position to at the moment to have any contact with anything that will give her any power. 
 
If she was indeed rampant in Halo 1 or 2 and didn't destroy herself, she's become one of the rare AI's that will never go rampant. I read (http://halo.wikia.com/wiki/Rampancy) that theres a few levels to rampancy, its like the stages of grief only ending in the death of the AI, except that some have survived this and once they do they surpass the mark of ever posing a threat to anyone. 
 
Would have been awesome to see how they tackled it but if they follow their own rules (they revamped some stuff for reach!) I don't think it will happen.

Posted by xMP44x

Your formatting didn't copy over, but that is a very cool idea.

Posted by Sevan
@xMP44x: @Finstern: for some reason my computer is acting really batty with Giantbomb's editing system. I usually do stuff on cmicvine (matter of fact i just finished something) and i've never had these problems. 
Posted by Sevan
@Finstern: the revamping is exactly why i think this is still a reality. 
 Bungie obviously had a plan of their own since halo 2. All the books written where done so in collaboration with them, and there was very little discrepancy between the games and literature. 
  But around the time Bungie started plans to move on, Microsoft started doing their own thing (in Halo Wars there are some changes). I think the changes in Halo Reach (im assuming your referring to the entire last half involving Cortana, which is entirely different from what happened in The Fall of Reach), and everything in Halo legends, are part of Microsoft/343's plans to keep the franchise going. 
 When i first saw Halo Legends, i considered that perhaps Cortana hasn' actually reached the point past rampancy yet. Maybe shes still being Rampant (watch the end of her "history" in Legends closely).
Posted by Finstern

Yeah I'd say theres definitely a chance alright, the whole transition from Halo 2 to 3 left a huge blind spot on what actually happened to her which I feel is kind of annoying as she is practically the vocal half of the main character. But meh, I don't have much faith in 343 Games' ability to produce a decent, coherent Halo storyline especially after Halo Wars. "Halo whats that? Game not looking so good? More Spartans! What else is Halo known for? Flood? SURE! Throw them in too, this takes place before the Flood were awakened in Halo 1? No? Ah well, who cares."   
 
Back on point: I don't know if you've read the Mendicant Bias logs in Halo 3 but the story very similarly mirrors that of what happened to Cortana. Two AI left to take care of stuff leading up to and after the activation of the rings, the Gravemind of its time corrupted one AI, it went Rampant, divulged information on Forerunner fleets etc, only to come out of its rampancy and become the Oracle of the Covenant.

Posted by Bones8677
@Finstern said:
" Yeah I'd say theres definitely a chance alright, the whole transition from Halo 2 to 3 left a huge blind spot on what actually happened to her which I feel is kind of annoying as she is practically the vocal half of the main character. But meh, I don't have much faith in 343 Games' ability to produce a decent, coherent Halo storyline especially after Halo Wars. "Halo whats that? Game not looking so good? More Spartans! What else is Halo known for? Flood? SURE! Throw them in too, this takes place before the Flood were awakened in Halo 1? No? Ah well, who cares."    Back on point: I don't know if you've read the Mendicant Bias logs in Halo 3 but the story very similarly mirrors that of what happened to Cortana. Two AI left to take care of stuff leading up to and after the activation of the rings, the Gravemind of its time corrupted one AI, it went Rampant, divulged information on Forerunner fleets etc, only to come out of its rampancy and become the Oracle of the Covenant. "
343 had nothing to do with Halo Wars, dude. That was Ensemble's game.
Online
Posted by Finstern
@Bones8677: Yeah but it shows what can happen when Bungie are not in control of their story. Sure Frank O'Connor is on board with 343 but he also had a hand in the story to Spartan 1337 in Halo Legends (as well as the better ones). Bungie had creative freedom from Microsoft when it came to everything but deadlines and "make another halo game" and with the current word that they want to make Halo into a yearly title similar to that of CoD, I don't trust them to keep up with the same amount of detail to the story and universe.
Posted by Sevan
@Finstern said:
" @Bones8677: Yeah but it shows what can happen when Bungie are not in control of their story. Sure Frank O'Connor is on board with 343 but he also had a hand in the story to Spartan 1337 in Halo Legends (as well as the better ones). Bungie had creative freedom from Microsoft when it came to everything but deadlines and "make another halo game" and with the current word that they want to make Halo into a yearly title similar to that of CoD, I don't trust them to keep up with the same amount of detail to the story and universe. "
it shouldnt be that hard. im really hoping that the 343 team is full of people who love halo too much to piss all over it lore. I'm actually far more concerned about the gameplay suffering than the stories. They have about 6 possibly living spartains to play around with, a and tons of other stuff.
 Eventually they will kill Halo. The story was centered solely around stopping the Covenant and the flood, and with both of them out of the picture there are very few things they could introduce that wouldnt loose them half of their fan base.
Posted by TEHMAXXORZ

...Cortana was 'handed' to Noble Six, not the Master Chief... Just sayin'.

Posted by Sevan
@TEHMAXXORZ said:
" ...Cortana was 'handed' to Noble Six, not the Master Chief... Just sayin'. "
   Cortana was handed directly to John by Halsey, and then he and Cortana had to run a hyper-dangerous obstacle course to prove to the ONI brass that Spartans and super A.I.s were worth the money. Then Reach was attacked.  
   ....and then Halo REACH came out and ruined all of that for the sake of story. A good story, but still...
Posted by DarkFury

In First Strike, you see Cortana acting erratically as she copes with holding all the data from the Installation 04 control room, this of course expands further and further. Definitely with you on this one, not so sure if she'd be the main enemy of John in the next game however..

Edited by Enigma777

Interesting read. I'm really curious what they do next with Halo. I'd love a sequel to Halo Wars, but I know it's not gonna happen. :(

Posted by Sevan
@Enigma777 said:
Interesting read. I'm really curious what they do next with Halo. I'd love a sequel to Halo Wars, but I know it's not gonna happen. :(
its possible. The game wasnt bad, it just needed some tweeking. But I think it was understood from the getgo that HW wasnt going to be as big as the other Halo's because console ownersas a whole  are notoriously NOT into strategy games.  But i can see a two eventually. Microsoft will want to milk the franchise as much as possible in the next few years...